Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversations on Charlie’s book Start Finishing. In our last conversation, Rachael Ridenour talked about how to see your projects as mirrors and how to process those reflections. In today’s conversation, Nailah Blades talks about how to maximize your Recovery blocks.
In chapter 5 of Start Finishing, Charlie introduces us to the concept of converting our weekly schedule into blocks of time to help us do our best work. The four blocks of time are Focus blocks, Social blocks, Admin blocks, and Recovery blocks.
As someone who is guilty of trying to squeeze my best work into tiny pockets of time on my calendar, Charlie’s approach to planning my week and months really spoke to me — and I was incredibly excited that recovery had earned its own block in his system.
Sometimes building the motivation to dive into our best work is a challenge. As Charlie mentions in the book, we’re up against our own head trash, impostor syndrome, and the day-to-day tasks that chip away at our time.
But sometimes, we get into the groove of work and never want to stop. We live in an increasingly all or nothing society, and as creative entrepreneurs, it can be easy to feel compelled to #CrushIt 24/7. Oftentimes we feel guilty about not relentlessly pursuing our goals every second of every day — we, after all, have just as many hours in our day as Beyonce, right?
But building in time for recovery is just as important, if not more important than the actual work we’re doing. The time we spend recovering allows us to continue doing our very best work without sacrificing our minds and bodies. (Tweet this.)
What I’ve learned in my years of working with ambitious, driven entrepreneurs — and in all my years of being one — is that we’re not always entirely sure what would really fill up our recovery bucket. Some of us get so focused on our business goals that we forget what lights us up personally. Others of us have that fun little habit of turning hobbies into businesses and sucking the lightheartedness out of them.
Whatever the case may be for you, here are three ways to maximize your Recovery blocks so that you’re recharged and ready to do your best work.
1. Create a Joy List
Have you ever had an unexpected hour of free time and then spent most of that time deciding what you should do with that time?
One of the first things I recommend to clients is to create a Joy List, a literal list of the activities that bring them the most joy in life.
Think back to the things you enjoyed as a kid and decide how those activities might take shape now as an adult. (Playing in the dirt as a kid might translate to gardening as an adult.) You can add the small activities that make you feel most refreshed and reconnected, too. You can also add in the big adventures that help to really refill your bucket after a longer period of focused time. And you can add in any new activities you’d like to try.
Now you’ll have a good list to pull from to maximize each Recovery block. As Suga Free said, “If you stay ready, you ain’t have to get ready.”
2. Get Outside
I’m a big proponent of using outdoor adventure to help us reconnect with who we are at our core and slip into deeper levels of recovery. And I’m not the only one: Cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer studies what he calls the “three-day effect.” It shows the tremendous impact that getting outdoors has on the frontal cortex, the “executive taskmaster” of our brains.
Simply put, getting outside allows our frontal cortex to unwind from our regular lives.
Once that part of our brain is freed up, other parts of the brain begin to take over, like those associated with sensory perception, empathy, and productive day-dreaming.
Strayer specifically studied what happens to the brain when backpackers go on 72-hour Outward Bound trips. Not all of us can take 72 hours to trek around the woods, but we can recreate these results at home by adding some time outdoors to our Recovery blocks. This can be as simple as going for a walk in our neighborhoods, reading a book on our front porches, or going for a bike ride with our family.
3. Be Vigilant About Your Time
In my experience, Recovery blocks have a funny way of being eaten by other obligations. Most of us are pretty good at holding onto Focus blocks, Admin blocks, and even our Social blocks. Something in us, though, makes us feel it’s ok to chip into the time we’re holding for recovery and self care.
Once you decide when your Recovery blocks will be, hold onto that time the same way you would any other obligation on your calendar. Enlist others to help you with this, and make it clear that the time you’ve carved out to refuel is just as important as all of the other blocks on your calendar.
Create “I need” statements to further set the intention of what you need and how recovery is helping you achieve your best work: “In order to produce my best work I need…” Place the statements around your office so that you remember the importance of taking a break.
Making time to fully recover can seem frivolous, especially when there is important work to be done. But you need time and space to do things that ask nothing of you and only fill you with joy. Making and taking that time and space will not only replenish your energy stores but also inspire fresh ideas that help move your best work forward in more exciting ways.
Want more information? Start Finishing, the book that kicked off all of these Core Conversations, is your deeper dive into all aspects of how to turn your ideas into projects, and how to start finishing your best work.